Don’t Do This To Your Volunteers Because They Won’t Stay

Don’t Do This To Your Volunteers Because They Won’t Stay

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership 1 Comment

Does your church have problems keeping volunteers? Maybe you have plenty of members eager to volunteer, but for some reason, they don’t stay long.

The problem could be because they don’t feel appreciated. Volunteers are freely giving their valuable time and while they don’t expect monetary gain, they want to feel like the church appreciates their time.

Before another volunteer walks away, find out what not to do. You’ll be amazed at how many dedicated volunteers you’ll have by avoiding these common mistakes.

Focusing Only On The Mistakes

The church is supposed to be a positive, uplifting environment. Volunteers give their time to help make their entire community a more positive place. Your church members even volunteer to help themselves feel better, but no one benefits when leaders only focus on the mistakes made.

While it’s important to point out when something goes wrong, use it as a lesson, but also praise everything that went right. The idea is to help volunteers learn, not make them hate volunteering over a few mistakes.

Guilt Them Into Extra Time

No one likes guilt trips, especially at a church. However, when you don’t have enough volunteers for a church project, it might be tempting to strongly persuade church members to give more time than they actually have. Adding pressure to something that should be enjoyable just takes the joy out of it. Volunteers end up walking away because they don’t feel like their time is valued. Instead, thank them for the time they do give and be happy.

Give Orders But Never Listen

Think of your church as a business for a moment. As its leader, one of the most important things you can do is listen. The CEO of UPS actually went on a listening tour to gather ideas from his employees. Part of the reason is to get feedback and new ideas outside of what a leader could imagine on their own. The other reason is to ensure employees (in the church’s case, volunteers) feel like they have a say.

When you only give orders and never listen to ideas, it’s hard to keep volunteers. Besides, you never know when a volunteer may have a breakthrough idea to help grow the church.

Never Show Appreciation

The worst possible mistake you can make with your church volunteers is to never show appreciation. Volunteers are vital for growing your church. However, if you never say “thank you” or do something to let them know how much you appreciate all their hard work, they’ll feel like they’re being taken for granted. It’s not a great feeling.

Instead, make time to thank every volunteer. Make a point of thanking volunteers during services or send them a thank-you card at the end of the year for all their hard work. Whatever you do, let them know their hard work matters.

Never Celebrate The End Result

Your church may have a food drive or help clean up a neighborhood park, but how often do the volunteers get to see the fruits of their labor? For instance, go to the food bank and take pictures to show how happy people are to get a hot meal. Visit the park to show them how happy local children are to have a nice place to play.

The idea is to celebrate the results of all the hours put into a project. From meeting those they’ve helped to simply having a small gathering of all the volunteers to talk, laugh and share a snack, ensure volunteers get a celebration at the end of a project. This goes back to showing appreciation and it goes a long way towards keeping volunteers.

Skip Over Them For Leadership Positions

Finally, leaders can’t always handle everything on their own 24/7. They need others to help out. Micromanaging isn’t good for church leaders or volunteers. Instead of hiring someone, look to your volunteers. They’re learning from you and could make great leaders. When no one’s ever given the chance, they may think you don’t appreciate or respect them. Instead, let your volunteers lead sometimes. You’ll get more accomplished and not feel so overwhelmed yourself.

Need more ways to reach volunteers in your church? Find out how a church website helps attract and celebrate your hard-working volunteers.

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Comments 1

  1. What do you do when a pastor says publicly from the pulpit that volunteers should serve and not expect any thank you’s or appreciation because their reward is in heaven?

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